Two Fingers is the work of the prodigiously talented and continually imaginative Amon Tobin. One of the first artists whose name leaps to mind from the Ninja Tune Roster, Tobin is a stalwart of the label, but his music remains in a state of continuous development. Stunt Rhythms is his second album under the Two Fingers moniker, and it follows closely the approach of the first in instrumental form, exploring the lower end of the frequency spectrum.
Tobin has always had a gift for expressing himself in these subterranean depths, but Two Fingers combines the bass with primal percussion, raw synthesized power and sheer adrenalin, as it looks to fill the biggest of dark rooms. It is ultimately an expression of his love for all things hip hop, but in characteristic fashion it is done with his own slant on the style. It could almost be called ‘hop and bass’, for it brings in elements of a much faster style, creating a thrilling clash of speeds and rhythmic meters.
Take the coruscating Snap, for instance, where the kick drum slams heavily down on the first beat, and the huge crashes of percussion threaten to wipe out anything in their path. Even more powerful is Fools Rhythm, a track that Tobin previously released for Ninja’s XX box set. The huge beat has an army of clappers and a wiry synth line that drops like a snake almost beneath the audible threshold on headphones. It is a truly thrilling moment when music like this makes the ribcage rattle, tapping in to the primal rhythms that Tobin expresses so vividly.
And yet there is a little subtlety elsewhere, albeit in small measure. Tobin proves adept at handling threadbare string lines, which often pop up in the middle ground, but when they assume centre stage, as they do briefly in Stripe Rhythm, the effect is disconcerting, the percussion pulled from under the listener’s feet.
It is easy to imagine a full on rap working well with much of this music, and indeed it did in the first Two Fingers album, a collaboration with Sway. In a sense that is the only element missing here, the vocal aspect which could make this music truly overpowering. Yet Tobin’s music is so full on, so conspicuously lacking in any sense of holding back, that the proper thing to do is just leave any preconceptions at the door and lose control. Completely.